West Point Gives Award for Pro-Gays in Military Paper
A conservative critic of the military is questioning West Point’s decision to give an award to a cadet for a pro-gay paper.
Second Lieutenant Alexander Raggio describes himself as the straightest guy imaginable; but in his senior thesis at West Point Academy, he argued that the military’s policy banning homosexuals from service is not only wrong but harmful to America’s armed services. For his controversial paper, the then-senior cadet received an award from the Academy’s English Department.
This incident has led Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, to wonder what officials at the Academy were thinking. “I do intend to bring this to the attention of some of the people in the leadership roles at West Point,” she says. “I think it ought to be questioned.” Donnelly says this is the first she has heard of Raggio’s commendation from the English department, but news of the faculty’s conferral of honor on a graduating cadet for his pro-homosexual thesis has given rise to some grave concerns. “Certainly,” she asserts, “it does call into question the judgment of those who gave this award.”
Maybe it was just a really well written paper? A student essay that takes a controversial stance and provides sound argument is always going to stand out in a sea of bland papers that conclude “and I agree with both sides because they have some really good points.”
On the merits, Andrew Sullivan observes that, “Several recent polls have found that 60 to 80 percent of Americans believe the military’s ban on honest gay servicemembers should be lifted. 55 Arab linguists and 244 military medical personnel have been fired under the policy.”
David Schraub notes, too, that, “any view that seeks to change a policy is going to be ‘contrary’ to that policy until the change occurs. Trying to stifle or discourage views that challenge prevailing orthodoxy is indistinguishable from saying change should never happen.” True that. Fortunately, our military, especially in its educational system and journals, is quite open to respectful debate on issues of public policy so long as leaders actually obey and enforce the policy while it is in force.
The religious right wants to purge anyone from government who doesn’t toe their far-right bigoted line. They don’t seem to care a lick about national security, nor about winning wars and defeating terrorists and keeping us all safe. What they care about is pleasing their warped view of a vengeful God who apparently has so much time on His hands that he cares about some essay a kid wrote in school.
Well, no. We’ve got one woman saying the judgment of the West Point English department should be questioned.
UPDATE (Chris Lawrence): Lt. Raggio responds to Donnelly in our comments:
The CRM doesn’t like my thesis? Ouch. I guess I’ll just have to seek out the opinions of people whose views on military readiness don’t include giving up the things that make a free society great.
As far as allowing academic freeedom, I honestly believe that the freedom at West Point is far greater than at most state schools. The Army doesn’t want mindless drones, it wants thoughtful leaders.
Yes, I will obey the regulations as they currently read, but because this was expected of me, I was permitted and indeed encouraged to express my beliefs in an academic setting.